Shea Butter, commonly known as Karité, is derived from the Shea Nut Tree (butyrospermum parkii) which grows in the western region of Africa. The fruits of these trees contain a nut which is crushed, dried and ground. The powder is then boiled in water to release an unctuous green substance which rises to the top and solidifies to create Shea Butter. This butter has been used for centuries in Africa to moisturize and protect the skin from sun, wind, heat and salt water.
Shea butter is unique because of its high content of fats which act as a natural skin moisturizer, is extremely high in Vitamins A, E & F and enhances cell regeneration and capillary circulation. Shea butter also moisturizes skin with all the essential elements it needs for balance, elasticity and tone.
Shea Butter can be used for all forms of massage as it creates a frictionless, yet "easy grip" surface allowing for the smoothest and most therapeutic deep tissue work. It is an excellent base for the addition of essential oils. Because of its anti- inflammatory properties it is usefull in relieving muscle fatigue. And it is a key ingredient in the most reputable beauty products and soaps, only recently gaining recognition in the United States. Shea Butter cannot rob the skin of its natural oils and can actually help stimulate collagen production.
Currently Shea Butter is found in high end cosmetic products for its properties as a moisturizer and emollient and excellent penetration. It is also a known anti-inflammatory agent. Shea butter can be effective at treating the following conditions: fading scars, eczema, dermatitis, burns, rashes, severely dry skin, blemishes, dark spots, skin discolorations, stretchmark prevention and minimization, diaper rash, wrinkles and in lessening the irritation of psoriasis. It contains chemicals that help to heal bruising and soreness. Shea Butter provides natural UV sun protection although the level of protection is extremely variable, ranging from none at all to approximately SPF 3 so should not be solely relied on.
Shea Butter can be used as a hair dressing to moisturize dry scalp and stimulate hair growth. Used as a pomade, it helps to hold the hairstyle and lightly relax curls. Used in hair conditioners, it adds moisture to dry brittle hair in addition ot revitalizing, repairing nad preventing breakage.
Medicinally, Shea Butter has been studied as an anti-inflammatory topical cream, being helpful in cases of arthritis and it contains stigmasterol which is the sterol known as "the anti-stiffness factor" making it helpful in cases of rheumatism. It has additionally been studied as a nasal decongestant by applying it to the inside of the nostrils.
Shea butter is edible. It is consumed in traditional cuisine and used in the chocolate industry as a substitute for cocoa butter.
Shea Butter is also used in some indigenous ceremonies. Followers of the Holy Spirit Movement rebel group in Uganda smeared their bodies with shea buter in the belief that it would stop bullets. It is also used in Togo, West Africa for ceremonies among the Fulani tribe. The African name for Shea Butter: KARITE - means the Tree of Life because of its many important uses it provides to the people of this region.
Shea Butter has a very distinctive nutty scent. However, once applied to skin the scent will start to fade and become very faint in about 30 minutes.
Shea Butter is comparably richer than other emollients but scarcity of supply results in erratic market price.
People of all ages and skin types utilize shea butter because of its many uses. Everyone should have a jar of shea butter around the house for smoother skin or for treatment of minor skin injuries.
The shelf life of shea butter is 24 months when kept in a cool dry place. You can extend the shelf life of shea butter by keeping it refrigerated. There is no known toxicity.
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